Corrosive couple conflict (CCC) and coercive parent-child conflict constitute a ubiquitous, potent, and destructive (but modifiable) interpersonal poison to a wide range of adult and children's health outcomes. Such patterns are also linked with poor parent-child relationships and with more harsh punishment, which is associated with disturbed responses to environmental stresses (e.g., disruption in sympathetic nervous system and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical responses), a wide variety of adverse health outcomes in childhood, including dental caries, obesity, and diabetes related metabolic markers. This phase of NIH's Science of Behavior Change program emphasizes an experimental medicine approach to behavior change necessitating identification of central interpersonal/social targets for maximal impact on far-reaching panoply of health outcomes. This project will focus on factors associated diabetes and oral health (though the processes affect many other disease outcomes). Both are associated with pain, distress, expense, loss of productivity, and even mortality. They share overlapping medical regimens, are driven by overlapping proximal health behaviors, and affect a wide developmental span, from early childhood to late adulthood. As requested by the RFA, we will isolate three proximal health behaviors: (a) medical regimen adherence; (b) eating and drinking high sugar/calorie items; and (c) self-care behaviors. CCC/coercive parent-child conflicts are marked by an interrelated set of affective, behavioral, and physiological signatures. In the UH2 phase, we will identify/develop/validate assays. We will also identify/develop, and test interventions to reduce CCC/coercion targets. In the UH3 phase, we expect to conduct at least 2 studies to test whether reduction in targets results in improvement in adherence and other health behaviors of interest. One study will focus on parents and children, the other on adults in intimate relationships. Health behaviors related to diabetes and oral health problems will serve as dependent variables as will self-care behaviors in both diabetes and oral health. To place these health behaviors in the context of disease conditions and medical regimen adherence, we expect to focus one study on a sample of children with early childhood caries and the other study on an adult sample with diabetes.

Public Health Relevance

Corrosive couple conflict and coercive parent-child conflict constitute a ubiquitous, potent, and destructive (but modifiable) poison to a wide range of adult and child health problems. Despite very robust research findings and extensive clinical literatures, assays to sensitively, easily assess and interventions to quickly, precisely reduce these targets are underdeveloped. This project will identify, refine, and develop these tools and seek to establish the resulting impact on proximal health behaviors and medical regimen adherence.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
Exploratory/Developmental Cooperative Agreement Phase I (UH2)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BBBP-D (54))
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Riddle, Melissa
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New York University
Schools of Dentistry
New York
United States
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Neuhaus, Emily; Beauchaine, Theodore P; Bernier, Raphael A et al. (2017) Child and family characteristics moderate agreement between caregiver and clinician report of autism symptoms. Autism Res :